Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Community radio in the West: a legacy of struggle for survival in a state and capitalist controlled media environment

By Bart Cammaerts


In this article the legacy of struggle by community radio in the West is analysed from a comparative perspective. More specifically, the focus of this article is on Western media policies towards community radio. It is argued that while many community radio discourses, theories and policies are oriented towards developing countries and emerging democracies, community radio stations in the West are often forced to operate in the margins. Case studies on the US, the UK and Belgium are presented. Some influence of distinct regulatory paradigms can be observed, but overall in each of these countries community radio stations have a legacy of struggle for their existence and survival. This exposes the need to account for the distinct nature of community radio in (Western) regulatory regimes. A common thread in the cases being presented is the difficulty involved in (local) community radio legitimating its existence on the FM-band alongside commercial and public broadcasters. Unlike these, community radio movements have little lobbying power and are usually positioned as rogue and unprofessional actors within the broadcasting community. From a democratic perspective emphasizing the importance of participation and civic culture, Western media policies urgently need to create an enabling environment for participatory community radio initiatives

Topics: PN1990 Broadcasting
Publisher: Sage Communications
Year: 2009
DOI identifier: 10.1177/1748048509345057
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online

Suggested articles


  1. (1992). A Passion for Radio: Radio Waves and Community.
  2. (1993). Alternative Media: Linking Global and Local.
  3. (2005). Bilan du Fonds d’Aide à la Création Radiophonique’, Bruxelles: Ministère de la Communauté Française.
  4. (2003). Communications Act – Chapter 21’,
  5. (2001). Community and Civil Society doi
  6. (1979). Community Communications: The Role of Community Media
  7. (2006). Community Media: A Global Introduction.
  8. (2007). Community Media: Important but Imperfect. A case study of a community television station in a Brazilian favela’, in
  9. (2005). Community Media: People, Places and Communication Technologies. Cambridge: doi
  10. (2001). Community Radio Handbook. doi
  11. (2004). Comparing Media Systems: Three Models of Media and Politics. Cambridge: doi
  12. (1995). Conseil de l'éducation aux médias de la Communauté française
  13. (1993). De lange mars van de niet-openbare radio's’, editorial
  14. (1987). Décret sur l'audiovisuel’, 17 Juillet,
  15. (1991). From small scale utopism to large scale pragmatism’,
  16. (1994). From Telegraph to Telenet: towards a new communication framework in Belgium and
  17. (2002). Global Media Governance: A Beginners Guide.
  18. (1983). Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. doi
  19. (1975). Independent Radio; The Story of Commercial Radio in the United Kingdom. Lavenham: Terrance Dalton Limited.
  20. (1997). Les radios en France. Histoire, état et enjeux. Rennes : Editions Apogée.
  21. (2004). Many Voices, One World – Towards a New, More Just,
  22. (2000). Media policy paradigm shifts: in search of a new communications policy paradigm’, doi
  23. (1982). NOT the BBC/IBA: The Case for Community Radio.
  24. (2004). Notes from Community Radio Meeting’, 12th May, Newbattle Community Learning Association,
  25. (1965). Possibilities for Local Radio,
  26. (2000). Radio, Democracy and Development: Evolving Models of Community Radio’, doi
  27. (2001). Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America. doi
  28. (1951). Report of the Broadcasting Committee - 1949, Cmnd 8116.
  29. (1915). The Book of Wireless.
  30. (2005). The Community Radio Fund: Policy statement’, 7 January,
  31. (2004). The Community Radio Order’, 15 June, rder.htm (Last consulted 2
  32. (2001). The LPFM Fiasco: Micropower radio and the FCC’s low power Trojan Horse’,
  33. (2005). The Quited Voice: The Rise and Demise of Localism in American Radio. Carbondale: Southern Illinois doi
  34. (1998). The Role of Radio in the Rwandan Genocide’, doi
  35. (1999). The value of alternative media’, doi
  36. (2004). This Is Serbia Calling: Rock 'n'
  37. (2003). United States Early Radio History’,
  38. (1995). Van Telegraaf tot Telenet: naar een nieuw communicatiebestel in België en Vlaanderen?.
  39. (2005). Vlaams Commissariaat voor de Media

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.